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High street stores develop new innovative ideas to increase their sales regularly. Their objective is to create awareness in the market. An important factor here lies that the stores should understand their target customer’s unconsciousness as to what they are thinking. Human action is supported by their emotions. The reason behind every action is supported by a thought. It is essential for the brands to find out what the customers require and expect from the respective brand. To increase the sales and build brand value, the stores should understand the customer’s wants and desires at all times. Fashion is a process that is accepted by a large number of people for a period. But it tends to change from time to time (Solomon & Rabolt, 2004). This chapter identifies the consumer behaviour towards the high street stores in the UK between the age group of 18-24 year old young women. The target market of 18-24 young women has been chosen on the basis of their demographic profile and purchasing activities. This has been described in detail in the following sections.
4.1 Consumer behaviour of 18-21 year olds
The population of young women of 18-21 in mid 2008 was 1.5 million in the UK. This makes nearly 2.5% of the total UK population (Population estimates, 2008). Consumers of this age group are more likely to respond to adverts. Majority of them are students or graduates and have limited financial resources. It has been assumed by Vieira (2009), that younger people place more emphasis on their appearance then older people. Since they are more socially active and want to be updated with the latest styles in the fashion industry and to be a part of the society. ‘Consumer lifestyles are affected by group memberships within the society at large’ (Solomon & Rabolt, 2004:178). Changes in the consumer behaviour affect the retail industry. Young women have different consuming powers and choices. Thus, their likes and dislikes frequently keep changing. This entirely depends on their spending patterns and where they shop from. The characteristics of this particular age group are as follows:
4.1.1 Social Networking
The use of social networking websites has been increasing constantly amongst young women of this age group. 80% of them are socially involved discussing latest trends by instantly uploading photos, common interests etc (www.arcadiagroup.co.uk). ‘Consumers influence each other in many ways through the exchange of information both visually and verbally’ (Bertrandias, Goldsmith, 2006:25). According to them, the information provided by others seems to be reliable and they tend to follow the trends set by the majority at large. Sub-links are provided on the networking websites that directs them to online shopping.
4.1.2 Part Time Earner
Out of 7.3 million of UK’s part-time working population about 80% includes women (Smith, 2007). There has also been a rise in the income of part time earners, at £4.83 per hour in October 2009 (www.kayhealdhr.co.uk). The increase in their wages is beneficial for the high street retailers as it will affect their sales. As stated by Solomon & Rabolt (2004:25) ‘Consumer response is the ultimate test of whether a marketing strategy will succeed’. The spending patterns of women will have a positive change. However, the impact of recession had a negative effect on the working sector. Most of the women lost their jobs and the fashion industry as a result was affected (Women’s Fashion Lifestyles UK Nov. 2009). But now as the economy is recovering, more job opportunities have been created for the part time young women. Increase in monthly income will motivate them to make desirable purchases.
4.1.3 Females Living With Parents
In the UK, 18-21 year old comprises the second highest number of women living with their parents after 0-16 year olds. According to figure 4-1, 60% of them live with their parents (National Statistics, 2009). Living with their parents means that some of them might be dependable to make purchases and satisfy their wants and desires. On the other hand, few women might be working on per hourly basis. This reflects their spending patterns and influences their behaviour. Even though this age group is very receptive to fashion adverts but the entire decision is made by their parents.
Figure 4-1: Young adults living with their parent(s) in the year 1998 & 2008
Source: National Statistics (2009)
4.2 Consumer behaviour of 22-24 year olds
According to UK population estimates, during the mid 2008 the female population of 22-24 year old women comprised of 2.5% of the total UK population (Population estimates, 2008). Women of this age group include graduates, unemployed and are engaged in the working sector. They are focussed and career oriented. However they choose to have a family in the future. They are younger fashion- led women. This drives them to change their wardrobe collections often and their disposable income increases encouraging them to purchase more and more. Majority of them are influenced by celebrity culture and has inspired women to dress fashionably as they get older (UK women’s wear retailers Sept.2009).
4.2.1 Increase in Wages
There has been an increase in the wages of this particular age group to £5.8 per hour (www.kayhealdhr.co.uk). This shows a positive affect on the purchasing behaviour of young women engaged in the working sector. Their monthly income has increased encouraging them to make more purchases. Overall, it has an effect on the retail industry.
4.2.2 Females living with parents
40% of the women in the age group of 22-24 live with their parents. This means that 60% of them are independent (National Statistics, 2009). This shows their ability to fulfil their needs. Since a majority of them start earning and move out they are no longer dependable on their parent’s income.
4.2.3 Social Networking
The use of social networking website of women in the age group of 22-24 is at 68% (Hasebrink et al. 2008). By looking at this figure, it gives an opportunity for the retailers to advertise more on the internet via social networking websites. The consumers spend a lot of time browsing and may come across an appealing fashion advert. This influences their purchasing behaviour and increases the sales of the store. With the successful trend of online shopping, there are a number of websites that make shopping an enjoyable experience for women.
4.3 Online shopping
Online shopping offers a wide range of brands with an option to elect from a variety of high street brands. It provides the consumers with excellent customer services and an opportunity to look at cheaper products. This trend of online shopping is increasing with almost all the age groups. 34% women in the age group of18-24 have shopped online (Fashion online UK April 2010). This is due to several factors provided by the retailers on the internet. Some of them include easy navigation, attractive images, competitive prices etc. Therefore, for the high street retailers to advertise on the internet is the best option to reach to their targeted customers. The figure 4-2 below shows that every category of online shopping has been increasing year on year other than gifts that has declined by 12%.
Figure 4-2: Different categories increasing year on year
Source: Web marketing group (2010)
4.4 Influence of magazines
Majority of the women are attracted to purchase magazines by looking at the celebrities. Few of them might want to read articles of their interest. 13% of women in the chosen group of this study have agreed that they make purchases after looking at the fashion adverts in magazines (Women’s fashion lifestyle UK Nov.2009). Majority of them however do not get influenced. This might be due to the limited space provided for the advertisement with limited information about the high street brands.
4.5 Shopping Occasions
The purpose behind shopping differs from age to age. Older women are not socially involved as compared to the younger generation. Young women want to look trendy and stylish at all times. 55% of women from 16+ have stated that they purchase products on special occasions only. However, 33% of young women in the age group of 16-24 have stated that they don’t need an excuse to shop (Women’s Fashion Lifestyle UK Nov.2009). Young women, in the age group of 18-24 are most receptive to fashion adverts. This directs the retailers to advertise regularly to create awareness and increase their sales. .
By observing the demographics of both the age groups, it can clearly be understood that fashion advertisements have a considerable effect on their spending patterns. There is a difference in their monthly income which makes women in the age group of 22-24 potential customers. However, both the age groups enjoy online shopping because of convenience being students, graduates, full time workers etc. It is important for the high street store’s to keep them updated about the latest trends and styles regularly. The use of social networking websites is extremely high in both the age groups. This gives the brands to advertise on the internet via popup windows or blogs. The advertising campaign should be able to identify the target market and satisfy consumer’s needs.
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